HOUSTON -- Rice stadium is about to see something new.
Remember President John F. Kennedy’s iconic speech about putting a man on the moon? Remember the Miami Dolphins victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII? Both happened inside Rice Stadium. It’s a place built on history.
However, school officials are talking about partial demolition and construction.
“We think we have a terrific stadium, but it’s tired and needs some work,” said Rick Greenspan, Rice University’s Athletics Director.
Rice University trustees recently approved plans for a new 80,000-square-feet football facility with state-of-the-art weight rooms, locker rooms, suites and a new grassy area behind the south end zone. The new construction will replace what is currently standing on the stadium’s south side.
“Improvements are good,” said Steven Deutser, who jogs around the stadium daily. “Someone has to pay for it. This campus is about beauty and moving forward.”
Off-campus in Rice Village, neighbors who are sensitive to development in their community embraced Rice’s plans.
“They’ve always worked very well with the neighborhood and been very considerate,” said Michelle Shedd, a neighbor. “So, I’m not too worried about it.”
There are potential problems, though. Like so much construction on campus, the Rice Stadium improvements are going to rely on private donations.
“In this economy, it’s challenging,” Greenspan said.
Administrators already have secured $500,000 in donations and so they remain confident. History, they believe, is on their side.
“I have full confidence that we’ll achieve that goal,” Greenspan said. “If it was easy everybody would do it. But like John Kennedy said, we do it because we’re Rice.”